Hoang Thi Ha

Lead Researcher for Political & Security Affairs, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Ms Hoang Thi Ha is the lead researcher for political and security affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. Her research interests focus on political-security issues in ASEAN, ASEAN’s external relations and institutional-building within ASEAN. Ms Hoang joined the ASEAN department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam in 2004. She then worked at the ASEAN Secretariat for nine years where her last designation was Assistant Director, Head of the Political Cooperation Division. Ms Hoang holds an MA in International Relations from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

People in a street market in Banda Aceh on 14 April 2021. (Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP)

'Promiscuous diplomacy': How ASEAN navigates Indo-Pacific polemics and potentials

Despite releasing the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific in June 2019, ASEAN member states have yet to reach a coherent view on the Indo-Pacific, and remain ambivalent about the Indo-Pacific due to the concept’s malleability and external pressures from China and Russia. However, the Biden Administration’s proactive moves to consolidate the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy, especially through the first Quad summit, has injected further dynamism into the Indo-Pacific discourse. Would this mean more opportunities or limitations for ASEAN member states? ISEAS researcher Hoang Thi Ha examines the issue.
An officer checks a container with COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., as they arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the first shipment to Indonesia, in Tangerang, near Jakarta, 6 December 2020. (Dhemas Reviyanto/Antara Foto via Reuters)

Survey: China the most influential and distrusted power in Southeast Asia

The State of Southeast Asia 2021 survey published by the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute indicates that Southeast Asians’ trust in China continues to trend downward. China’s success in containing the pandemic domestically, and its "pandemic diplomacy” in the region have had little effect on Southeast Asians' trust deficit towards Beijing, as they are anxious over China’s ability to constrain their countries’ sovereignty and foreign policy choices. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha notes that this trust deficit undermines China’s “discourse power”, and Beijing would do well to consider recalibrating its approach to the region.
People wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus crowd in a market area in the old quarters of New Delhi on 11 October 2020. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

China has a long-term strategy in Southeast Asia. But what about India?

China is taking action to deepen economic engagement with Southeast Asia. India, despite Prime Minister Modi’s Act East rhetoric, is not.
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis transits the South China Sea at sunset, 25 February 2019. (US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan D. McLearnon/Handout via REUTERS)

Apart from ASEAN and China, international community and law are part of South China Sea discourse

With Vietnam at the helm of ASEAN this year, the grouping has wielded the aegis of international law to ensure that international and regional concerns about the South China Sea are respected in Code of Conduct negotiations. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha says that while China prefers to settle SCS issues between itself and ASEAN member states, this is not what ASEAN has in mind.
Two girls wearing face masks ride a scooter past a mural reading "whatever Indonesia" in Tangerang on 23 May 2020. (Fajrin Raharjo/AFP)

Beyond ASEAN: More 'no-superpower coalitions' needed as US-China rivalry upsets global interests

With China more aggressive and the US more unpredictable, and both more unilateralist, the US-China rivalry has ended the post-Cold War order that benefited Southeast Asia and ASEAN. ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Hoang Thi Ha note that Southeast Asian states should consider joining more or establishing minilateral informal coalitions that do not include China and the US.